Using pastry flour in place of AP flour

Where I live in North Africa, I cannot buy AP flour for baking but only Pastry flour (Ps-7). Particularly for bread (pita, naan, pizza crust, any bread really) my dough is always too wet and I end up adding more flour but then often the dough becomes too dense. What adjustments can I make (less water? What percent less? Add something to the pastry flour? Protein?) for better results using pastry flour?

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Smaug
Smaug March 19, 2018

Gluten flour is available that you could add, but no idea if it's available where you are. Also, wet doughs may not be as much of a problem as you think- pizza dough is really best with a fairly low gluten flour (though pastry flour may be going a bit far) and the dough should be quite soft; doughs for baguettes and most rustic style breads, though they're better with high gluten flour, tend to be surprisingly wet.

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Stephanie B.
Stephanie B. March 19, 2018

If you can find vital wheat gluten, you can add that. Or better yet bread flour. But I'm guessing if you can't find AP flour, more specialized flours like bread or pure gluten are not an option. I don't think pastry flour will work for any of these breads, even pizza crust which can be made well with AP flour, pastry flour just has too little gluten.

Another option is to stock up on flours online and just store the bags in your freezer, taking them them as you use them. Depending on how much you bake, one large order may make the shipping cost worth it. I've had to do this because I can't find plain old rye flour where I live, and so far it's way less hassle than constantly scanning the stores.

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Stephanie B.
Stephanie B. March 19, 2018

*taking them out as you use them

Smaug
Smaug March 19, 2018

Have you tried Bob's Red Mill for rye flour? Most stores stock it separately from the other flours, but usually have it. Whole Foods and Sprouts, probably other such places, usually stock a lot of their products.

Stephanie B.
Stephanie B. March 20, 2018

Yes, I should have specified: a plain old 5 lb bag of flour. I've found small bags of rye flour where I live now, for about $5-8 for 1 or 2lb bags. I make a whole rye bread that uses almost 1kg for a two loaf batch, and I make it often - it's just not worth it for me to buy the small bags. I used to be able to find 5lb bags for about $5 by Hodgson's Mill but it's just not stocked at any grocery store near me. So internet saves the day. Thanks anyway for the suggestion though!

Smaug
Smaug March 20, 2018

Yeah, Bob's is pricey- I use it mostly in small amounts in pizza crust, so not so bad for me. Seems to me that supermarkets now treat all baking supplies as luxuries- shelf prices for things like bread flour and yeast make simple breadmaking into an expensive hobby; I guess there just aren't enough people baking anymore- doing things for yourself seems to be quite unfashionable.

Nomadikfoodie
Nomadikfoodie March 21, 2018

Thanks for the input so far. I wonder if there are any other tips. I can only buy pastry flour (ps-7) here in North Africa. So I’m looking for tips on adjusting this in bread recipes. I do make pizza crust with this flour successfully enough. If I found some vital gluten (imported) what ratio would I add it to pastry flour? Thanks for the help thus far.

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Stephanie B.
Stephanie B. March 21, 2018

Hmm...I'm not sure. Here's a King Arthur Flour post/recipe for rye bread (not what you're going for gluten is commonly added to rye so I figured I'd find a quick answer). It seems you don't need much - maybe only about a tablespoon. https://blog.kingarthurflour...

Miss Karen
Miss Karen March 26, 2018

King Arthur Flour sells a multitude of various flours... I would as they say- "stock up."

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